The origin of oto ge e

Oto geeis a Yoruba expression, meaning it is enough.The age-long phrase gained political prominence in the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in when it was sloganeered by the opposition party (All Progressives Congress or APC) and its followers to chase the ruling party (Peoples Democratic Party or PDP) out of power.

The main target of the slogan was the arrowhead of Kwara politics, Senator Bukola Saraki, who inherited the power structure from his father, Senator Olusola Saraki. The Saraki Dynasty had the Kwara politics firmly under its thumb for several decades. Politically, no one could aspire to any elective positions at the state or federal level without paying obeisance to the god of Saraki.

Many years back, I struck a friendship with a member of the House of Representatives from Kwara Central Zone. I belong to the Southern Zone. He tried to educate me on the formula that could never fail: be generous like the head of the Saraki Dynasty. I should be going home from time to time, set up an Ile Arugbo from where I would be dishing out handouts. Peanuts like one hundred naira meant a lot to the commoners in at the time and even now, which was why the demolished Ile Arugbo became a Mecca or Jerusalem of sort.  And before I knew it, the beneficiaries of the peanuts would compose songs of praise in my name, worshipme like a demigod and provide me with the magic carpet to fly to any elective position of my choice from Kwara South. I was actually dreaming to start from the Senate. As at that time, the House of Representatives had assumed the notoriety for hooliganism where members fought over trivial issues, brokemace, shook and broke tables and hurled chairs at one another.

For instance, in 2007, the House was turned into a battle ground over an allegation of corruption and abuse of office by the leadership of the House. A belligerent group that precipitated the episode accused the then Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, of inflating the contract sum for the renovation of her official quarters and breaking due process. The war claimed the life of a member, Dr. Aminu Safana Batsari from Dutsima/Safana constituency in Katsina state, and left several others bruised and battered. It was after that epic battle that Hon. Dimeji Bankole (still remember him?) was elected speaker.

In June 2010, the House was again embroiled in another commotion. A group known as “The Progressives” pushed for the removal of the leadership of the House, alleging corruption. Determined to achieve their objective, a cabal headed by Hon. Dino Melaye (now a former senator) engaged the rest of their colleagues in a free-for-all. At the end of the fracas, some members of the group were beaten up and had their dresses torn to the boxers (was it because they were boxing?).

One of the victims caught my attention. She was a female honourable member. Her enraged colleagues woman hand led her and dragged her all over the floor of the house, revealing her panties!  Another fighter, Hon. ChinyereIgwe, fractured his arm during the scuffle with one of the “progressives”, named Hon. Austin Nwachukwu.

Consequently, the “progressives” were suspended from the House indefinitely and their offices sealed off while investigation was instituted into the show of shame. What made the spectacle more embarrassing was because it took place in the full glare of some students from the City Royal Secondary School, Nyanya, Abuja, who had been taken to the House to observe its proceedings.

Hear the reaction of one of the visitors who were held spell-bound for close to one hour that the fracas lasted: “I will not want my father or mother to be in a place like this.”

And because I never had the resources to create my own Ile Arugbo(home of the aged) in Offa, my home town, let alone dish out even peanuts to the aged and the non-aged, ever and anon, I perished the thought of making a veiled incursion into Kwara politics till date.

Now, back to o to ge e. The Yoruba folks came up with the expression from sounds coming from table sewing machines when cranked with the hand. They described the sounds as “gbogojo, gbogojo, gbogojo…o to ge e”. The o to ge e is a silent follow-up when the tailor cups his or her hand on the wheel-like devise to stop the needle from pistoning. In other words, the Sarakis had been doing the gbogojo, gbogojo, gbogojo for decades with until the opposition APC, against all odds, emerged from nowhere to cup the devise to halt the sewing process, screaming o to ge e all over the state to mark the sudden end of an era.

The high point of o to ge e was the recent demolition of theSarakis’ Ile Arugboby the o to gee administration on the grounds that the site of the philanthropic rendezvous was a government property illegally commandeered by the late head of the dynasty, Oloye Olusola Sakari, the Turaki of Ilorin.

The immediate past Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, now heading the dynasty, raised dust over the demolition. Her estranged younger sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, put aside her differences with the head of the dynasty and berated the state government for pulling down one of her late dad’s enduring legacies. She raved all over Ilorin, insisting that Ile Arugbo should have been spared the encounter with the bulldozer for her sake as a member of the ruling APC at the state and national levels.

Many had thought that she would quit the government where she is serving as a federal minister of state in the Ministry of Transportation in protest against the flattening of Ile Arugbo. No, she did not. If she did, she too would have ended up politically “kwarantined” like her elder brother! I tell you.

The o to ge e breaks applied on the Saraki Dynasty still appears like a sweet dream that would soon fade awayto the Kwarans because of the firm grip the Kwarakis (a euphemism for the Dynasty’s commandeering of the state for decades) had on them. However, the pleasant dream has refused to go away; it is now a reality! But it has remained a nightmare for the Sarakis.

After the o to ge e success, I have not stopped wondering how the APC managed to pulverise the Dynasty without lifting a sewing machine on its shoulder like the “obioma” believed to come from Igbo land. He is the ubiquitous tailor who renders services like mending torn clothes, adjusting undersized and oversizeddresses, making emergency school uniforms as well as bed sheets and pillow cases, replacing damaged zips, fixing buttons, etc., in the neighbourhood… using his pair of scissors to announce his presence by clanking them.

Curiously, the Igbo tailors plying their trade in the South-west popularised the business but the Yoruba politicised the sound – gbogojo, gbogojo, gbogojo… o to ge e!!!

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